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Kashmir parties pitch for simultaneous Assembly, LS polls

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Srinagar, Mar 04: The political parties of Kashmir Monday impressed upon the Election Commission of India (ECI) to hold the Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir simultaneously with the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The ECI Monday began a two-day visit to the state to assess the feasibility of holding the Lok Sabha and the Assembly polls simultaneously.

Delegations of National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Pradesh Congress Committee and other smaller parties met the EC team headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora to put forth their views about holding of Assembly elections in the state.

A three-member NC delegation led by party general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar, state secretary Choudhary Muhammad Ramzan and provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani reiterated party’s resolve that there is no substitute to a democratically-elected government in the state, NC said in a press release.

“National Conference is of the view that Assembly elections in the state should he held simultaneously with Lok Sabha elections,” the delegation said.

The NC delegation while underscoring the importance of having a democratically-elected government said that people are yearning for a popular government that could further the cause of development in the state and safeguard their rights.

“J&K Governor has himself maintained that the recently conducted panchayat elections were peaceful and shorn of any untoward incident.  The expanse of panchayat elections was much larger than the parliament and legislative assembly elections.  There is nothing which suggests irrationally of not having the two elections together,” NC said,

It said that security should not be a reason to put off Assembly elections in view of the Governor’s on record affirmation of having conducted ULB and Panchayat elections together.

“It is therefore in that context that we expect Governor SP Malik and his team to work towards making situation in the state conducive for Assembly , LS elections and prepare an atmosphere where people in the state will feel free while participating in the democratic process,” the NC said.

“It will hold good for the state if the elections are conducted together before the onset of tourist season. The whole affair of elections if accomplished before summer sets in will have a positive impact on the economic activity of the state,” NC said.

It said “people of the state have pinned their hopes on ECI hoping that the institution will come up with pragmatic recommendations that hold good for democracy to thrive in a sensitive state like J&K.”

NC also said that any further delay in giving people of the state a democratically-elected government will inadvertently disenchant people towards democracy.

“Governor’s short-run administrative announcements and decisions have added to confusion and mistrust among the people here. The recent amendment to 1954 constitutional order by the Union Cabinet is a case in point.  In a working democracy, the situation is different where any move/change is arduously discussed in both houses,” NC said its delegation told the visiting ECI team.

PDP delegation leader Abdul Rehman Veeri said his party also wanted an early election to the State Assembly so that a people's government is put in place.

Asked if PDP delegation had sought Assembly polls be held alongside Lok Sabha elections, Veeri was non-committal. "The elections should be held as soon as possible," he said.

Congress leader Taj Mohiuddin said his party delegation highlighted the fact that holding Assembly elections together with Lok Sabha elections can lead to higher voter turnout as was witnessed in 2008 Assembly polls.

"We told the Election Commission how in 2008 Assembly elections a high voter turnout was witnessed when people doubted about holding the polls. Our stand was that the commission has all the data about security deployment in 2008 and it should be easy for them to assess the requirements for this year's election as well," he said.

Mohiudding said while the Governor's administration might be doing its job well, President's Rule cannot be an alternative to an elected government in terms of redressal of problems faced by the people.

"The MLAs are the link between the government and the people and no one can replace this link. The government under President's Rule is bureaucrats' government. They are not accessible to common people," he said.

CPI(M) delegation led by M Y Tarigami told the Commission that the democratic process in Jammu and Kashmir should be resumed at the earliest and advocated holding Lok Sabha and State Assembly polls together in the state.

"Jammu and Kashmir state is without an elected government for the past nine months and in the absence of an elected government, uncertainty in the state is deepening day-by-day and dissatisfaction among large section of people is increasing," Tarigami said.

"Only effective response to this situation is to initiate democratic process and hold elections to Assembly and Lok Sabha simultaneously. Any delay to do so will hamper the process of improvement in the situation," he added.

Tarigami, who led the CPI(M) delegation in the meeting, said when the President's Rule was imposed in the state on December 19, 2018, the Union Home Minister said in the Parliament that they will not delay holding of elections in Jammu and Kashmir and it will be held within six months.

"There is no justification whatsoever to delay Assembly elections in J&K politically or constitutionally. Experience confirms that delay will hamper the process of improvement and any excuse to delay can't be justified. Administration will be overburdened if elections are held separately," the four-time MLA from Kulgam said.

Tarigami said the CPI(M) leaders urged the CEC to announce the election dates for the Parliament and Assembly as soon as possible to end the prevailing political uncertainty in the sensitive state.

The State is currently under President's Rule since December 19, 2018 which was necessitated at the end of the six month period under Governor's Rule imposed on 19 June 2018.

The PDP-BJP government in the state fell on June 19 after the BJP pulled out of the coalition.

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